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“Day of the Locust” Novel by Nathanael West


Nathanael West’s Day of the Locust’ is a clear depiction of the harsh realities of life. Opposed to Whiteman and Dewey’s envisions of a world of achievable dreams and hopes, West introduces his audience to a world of challenges and the possibility of failures. The main character, Tod Hackett, a graduate of Fine Arts, lands on a new designing job with National Films in Hollywood. The opportunity offers the talented young dreamer a turn in career to finally pursue his artistic dreams. However, Tod’s unreciprocated affection towards Faye Greener remains an obstacle between the young man and his dreams. Faye fails to fall in love with Tod due to his low economic status. Besides, she mentions that Tod is unattractive. To overcome his obstacles, Tod Hackett should rather focus on his career than a matter of the heart.

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Tod’s affection towards Faye blinds him from pursuing his career dreams. Although a slow-looking man, Tod Hackett is a passionate and decorated painter. A graduate from Yale School of Fine Arts, Tod’s career path lands him a job with National Films Hollywood. Considering the job as an opportunity for self-exploration and further pursuit of his career, the young dreamer intends to dedicate time and commitment. However, Tod’s feelings of attraction towards Faye Greener come as an obstacle to these dreams. Upon moving to Hollywood, Tod Hackett falls in love with his landlord’s daughter, a young beautiful manipulative lady, Faye Greener. Faye fails to reciprocate Tod’s feelings citing that he is unattractive and low class.

Faye is unattached to Tod despite his affection and close relationship with her sickly father, Mr. Greener. According to the novel, Tod’s economic situation is a major reason for his rejection. His center of titration, Miss Greener, needs financial support and reliability to support her sick father and pursue her career goals in theatre. Her dreams are in chaos as she lacks the financial capacity to meet these demands. She uses her beauty to her advantage. Miss Greener’s beauty and elegance make her a center of attraction, drawing many suitors towards her. Faye seizes the opportunity to exploit her secret admirers in pursuing her career in the theatre. As an unestablished young man pursuing his career, Tod falls among the least favorite in Miss Greener’s preference list due to his financial instability. Instead, Faye prefers her other admirer, Homer. Consequently, to Faye Greener, Homer represents financial stability and progressiveness.

Another obstacle Tod faces towards winning Greener’s affection is his extreme violent feelings depicted in his actions towards her. Tod’s feelings are depicted in the text as strange and extreme (Brintwood 5). A combination of soft and violent actions from Tod creates a sense of insecurity about his intentions on Faye. The ironic feeling of wanting to hurt and even rape Faye is a strong indication of obsession. At this point, Tod is unable to live with the fact that Miss Greener has no feelings for him. Millmall argues that the feeling is a consequence of the denial stage experienced by victims of rejection.


To overcome his predicament, Tod should learn to accept rejection and focus on regeneration. Denial is a stagnating period during rejection when victims fail to come into terms with the state of affairs (Millman 5). During this period, victims lose interest in other aspects of life while struggling to appeal to the person rejecting them. Despite a series of disappoints and rejections, Tod’s pursuance of Miss Greener’s affection persists. He continues to live with the delusion that she would eventually fall in love with him. The faint feeling of hope is attributed to Tod’s denial of Faye’s rejection.

Evidently, after giving up on his pursuit of Faye’s love, Tod focuses on his painting career. Towards the novel’s tail end, Tod realizes that his unsuccessful moves towards winning Faye’s love depicted a desperate feeling in those of his paintings. Also prompted by his realization of Homer’s affair with Miss Faye, Tod’s life takes a twist of events after that. From this view, Tod’s recovery depends on his realization and acceptance that he cannot win Faye’s heart. Consequently, an insight of moving on, focusing on his career, provides an easier scapegoat towards his regeneration.


On the contrary, Brintwood argues that the only chance to Tod’s redemption is to get his heart’s desires. Tod’s heart desire is to win Miss Greener’s affection, something he has tried without success multiple times. According to Brintwood, only through winning Faye’s affections does Tod stand the chance of living a normal life in Los Angeles. His obsession with Miss Greener drives him crazy to the extent of acting sexually violent aggressive towards her in public. Consequently, this depicts qualities of violence and aggression that devalue not only his image but also discredits his chances of winning over Faye’s love.

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Besides, Tod’s financial position contributes to his predicaments. Therefore his focus should be geared towards establishing himself by first pursuing his career. In dealing with the economic obstacles, Tod needs a simultaneous reaction to his social life to recover from a lifelong loss. Furthermore, establishing himself presents the possibility of creating a sense of appeal towards Faye. Therefore, only living a life focused on achieving his dreams can present a way out of Tod’s misery.

However, self-realization is key in Tod’s recovery and regeneration. The acceptance and moving process can only be achieved through the victim’s conviction (Millman 17). However, much of these factors point towards focusing on his career as his shot at redemption; his conviction and acceptance are integral for the process. Through this, it presents the possibility of creating a sense of appeal towards Faye. Therefore, only living a life focused on achieving his dreams can present a way out of Tod’s misery.


Apart from the educative and entertaining roles of art, artists are integral in envisioning a better world for their audience. Through poems, paintings, and writings, artists shape their audience’s thoughts and hopes, among other pieces of art. For instance, through spreading positivism in their artistic works, Whitman and Dewey significantly impacted their audience’s views on democracy and freedom. This empowers the artists to impact of generation’s view or opinion on a particular issue. Through the artistic creation of an ideal world where justice, equality, and fairness prevails, these artists help their audience envision an achievable hope and dream. Consequently, this further impacts the audience’s belief and hope towards achieving such a world.

Works Cited

Brintwood, Dylan J. “The Grotesque in the Grotesque City: An Analysis of West’s The Day of the Locust.” (2019).

Millman, Edward. “You only have time to explode’”: Nathanael West’s Novels, Mass Media, and Illusory Dreams.” (2020). Web.

Nathanael, West. Day of the Locust. Charles River Editors, 2018. ISBN: 9780811224628 0811224627

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